Gardening is such a rewarding hobby, but it can also be an expensive one. There are many budget-friendly ways to grow plants, though, and starting your seeds instead of buying transplants is an excellent way to cut back on expenses. You can also save a little green by upcycling containers you have around the house for your seed-starting adventures!
Eggs are grocery staples in many people’s homes, so chances are you have plenty of access to egg cartons. Select the cardboard variety, as they are biodegradable and go straight into the ground or a bigger container when it’s time for potting up.
Be sure to poke a tiny hole in the bottom of the container to allow for good drainage. Egg cartons aren’t deep, so move seedlings into a bigger home after they sprout to allow for healthy root development.
Big or small, yogurt containers of all sizes are excellent options for seed starting. I often use the smaller, individual format for seed starting and then carefully move the seedlings into the 750ml container when they’re big enough.
You can also use sour cream and cottage cheese containers for the job.
Again, it’s essential to cut tiny holes in the bottom of the cup for drainage. And, of course, plastic can’t go into the ground, so grab a kitchen fork and gently remove seedlings when it’s time for transplant outdoors.
Toilet Paper Rolls
Spare empty toilet paper rolls from the recycling bin by turning them into biodegradable planters.
Cut vertical lines a couple of inches long up one end of the roll. Fold them inwards to create a little cup, fill with seed starting mix, and away you go!
Toilet paper rolls can get very soggy, so be sure not to overwater. I recommend using them only when the goal is to transplant within a couple of weeks, as they won’t hold forever. Similar to egg cartons, you can plant these directly into the ground outside.
A regular old newspaper can also transform into a handy seed starting pot if you’re feeling crafty. Be sure to use a matte print and nothing shiny!
I followed this online tutorial to make mine and was successful despite my lack of origami skills! If I can do it, anyone can. Trust me.
Again, newspaper cups are a great option if you’ll be moving the seedlings to their final resting spot in the short term, as they won’t hold together for very long. Newspaper is also excellent for mulching the soil, so have no regrets about planting this cup in the garden.
From soup and bean cans to cans for diced tomatoes, fruit, sauces, and more, you can 100% use these as planters. Depending on the size, you can use them long-term as well for houseplants!
Using a sharp knife, very carefully puncture holes in the bottom of the can for drainage. Add your soil and seeds, and away you go!
Plastic Salad Containers and Trays
If you don’t have a seed starting tray and dome, empty salad containers are a perfect replacement. I have successfully used Spring mix and hydroponic lettuce containers to germinate many of my seeds.
They serve as both a tray to collect water runoff and have a lid to keep the temperature warm enough for sprouting. Just be sure to pop the cover as soon as you see green! Leaving it on will lead to mold issues.
Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her two young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.
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